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Tibet's economy grew 10 percent in 2008 - planner

January 3, 2009

BEIJING, Jan 1, 2009 (Reuters) - Tibet's economy grew by 10 percent in 2008, China's top economic planner said, driven by 14-percent growth in fixed-asset investment that offset a sharp drop in tourism after demonstrations in March.
 
Tibet's economy was 'strong early in the year, fell off in the middle and bounced back by the end,' the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website (www.ndrc.gov.cn).
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A week of initially peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa turned into a deadly riot on March 14, when protestors burned Han Chinese and Hui Muslim shops and sparked demonstrations in Tibetan towns across the plateau. A military crackdown ended the uprising.
 
That put the tourist industry in Tibet on ice, with heavy restrictions placed on foreign travel to the region while Chinese tourists were discouraged by safety concerns. The Olympic Games, held in August in Beijing, further reduced Chinese tourists' interest in travelling elsewhere.
 
Gross Domestic Product in the Tibetan Autonomous Region grew for the sixteenth year in a row, to 39.2 billion yuan ($5.75 billion), up 10.1 percent on year, while fixed asset investment rose 14.3 percent to 31 billion yuan, the NDRC said.
 
Of the 180 projects in Tibet included in the current five-year plan, 170 have commenced construction and 76 have been completed, it added.
 
Beijing says Tibet's economy has improved under its watch, while Tibetan activists say that the economic benefits of investment have largely benefitted Chinese migrants and bypassed impoverished Tibetans.
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